April 19, 2004

Note: What Should Our Policy in Iraq Be?

Jim Henley and Dave Trowbridge are fans of Arkhangel:

Better Angels of our Nature: Victory: So, earlier I stated that I was fairly pessimistic about our chances in Iraq. One of the big reasons I'm pessimistic is because of our lack of a victory strategy in Iraq. We seem to be making it up as we go along, and while no plan ever survives contact with the enemy, at least it's good to have a plan. We've been operating without one--needlessly, I think--since the war began.... What do we need to do? The following are some ideas I've come up with...

Posted by DeLong at April 19, 2004 06:15 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

About a year late, I'd say.

Posted by: Tom Marney on April 19, 2004 06:59 PM


Check out this gem:

"The only exemptions to the draft would be people who chose to forego federal student aid for education from the beginning, and single parents with sole custody of their children, who have no other living relative to care for their child."

So the rich get out of it while single mothers are stuck in Iraq letting Grandma take care of the kid. Beautiful.

Posted by: rps on April 19, 2004 07:13 PM


Is this really a task that the uneducated lay person can tackle? It seems that it is hard enough for people who are more intimately knowledgable about the situation on the ground to devise a solution.

The Bush plan was to Sweep away Saddam and his army.
Replace Saddam on the interim with a US Viceroy.
Let the Iraqi people call a convention to invent a new government.
Iraqis celebrate their new democracy.
The US leaves.
Iraqis live happily ever after.

A problem with the Bush plan is it was too skimpy on the details. At a minimum it is missing the step to restore order and prevent chaos. Then there are all those tricky steps in getting from a dictatorship to a functioning democratic country. The devil is in the details. Without the details and step by step progress, the process is reduced to extingishing the latest fire and no progress is ever made. This is the typical GOP model of government. No wonder they hate government.

It would seem that there need to be a slow and steady movement to empower the Iraqis instead of paying Halliburton and the US military to babysit them. What kid doesn't resent the baby sitter? But this is a complicated process that is not easily reduced to a slogan.

Posted by: bakho on April 19, 2004 07:29 PM


It's mental masturbation.

If someone is not willing to go off to a foreign nation and die on that nation's soil, they shouldn't send others. Same for sending one's own son or daughter. Over the weekend, the front page of my town's newspaper had a picture of the hold of a US Air Force cargo plane. It showed about a dozen flag draped coffins. I couldn't imagine losing a loved one for this.

The victory strategy and plan on his post don't matter. What is "victory" in Iraq? Reinstalling Saddam is an obvious one. The basis for American policy from this point in the conflict forward needs to rest on this question: Why are we there? Since neither the esteemed AEI and the further esteemed Washington Times haven't given us an answer, we need to move on to the next question.

How do we get out? Declare political and military neutrality in relations with all of the muslim world. If they want to do business, fine. Otherwise, get our nose out of their business and off their soil. This war has been going on for a 1,000 years. Three or four or five generations of neutrality is the only way to end it.

Posted by: phil on April 19, 2004 08:00 PM


A good question would be ¿what the administration thought "victory" was gonna be like?. I can only think of two possibilities. The first is the one Bakho described.
"The Bush plan was to Sweep away Saddam and his army.
Replace Saddam on the interim with a US Viceroy.
Let the Iraqi people call a convention to invent a new government.
Iraqis celebrate their new democracy.
The US leaves.
Iraqis live happily ever after."
Extremely naive and misinformed. So misinformed in fact as to make it completely unproductive.
The second one would be something like this..
Devastating air strikes destroy much of Irak government elite (maybe even Saddam), quick advances by ground troops demoralize Iraki army.
Large parts of Iraki army changes sides, anxious to get on the good side of the winner.
American troops (and Iraki helpers) are received as liberators.
The Iraki turncoats (which were expected to be large sections of the government bureaucracy and security apparatus) keep the country running and under control in exchange for protection.
Irak has some kind of elections (probably not completely free or fair).
Chalabi or someone like him wins.
¡Victory!. The country would look reasonably democratic while the army (made of remnants of the old Saddam army) would keep the politicians and the masses under control in exchange for USA protection (something like Turkey or Pakistan some time ago). Not so bad as a plan but the Sunnis stubborn resistance and the government collapse made it fail (if it was the real plan).

Posted by: Carlos on April 19, 2004 08:56 PM


What appears to be happening now was the proper policy all along: dump it on the U.N. From the beginning:

(1) Don’t invade anyplace to make it a better world without a very broad multilateral coalition (e.g., the U.N.).

(2) If you are going to invade without the U.N., hand it over to the U.N. immediately at the end of the invasion.

It doesn’t matter if the U.N. is partly corrupt or not always with us. What matters is, the people being invaded know what to EXPECT, have a program to FOLLOW, whereupon freedom ensues.

The first one or two times may not work, until everybody sees how it was done before. After that, we’ll have much more substantial support all the way around.

Posted by: Lee A. on April 19, 2004 09:08 PM


Carlos, I like your version of the Bush plan better than the one I posted. I don't think Bush ever intends the US to leave Iraq. After all, we now have bases in all the "Stans". Why should we not end up with permanent bases in Iraq and a 3000 man embassy to service it?

I don't think that the Iraqi army changing sides could have been in the plan because the Iraqi army was dismissed. If we really thought we could turn them, it think that would have been tried, but it was not. There are a lot of poor decisions that don't make much strategic military sense.

Very few times in history has an invasion actually made the world a better place. I would say the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam falls in that category. Maybe the invasion of Uganda by Tanzania?

Posted by: bakho on April 19, 2004 10:02 PM


Now it seems that Bush (or was it Cheney) has appointed Negroponte the new ambassador to Iraq--in the consulate that is yet to become real. Isn't Negroponte the guy who is thought to have been responsible for or behind some deaths in S. America while he was down there? Trust Bush to appoint someone who has no real qualifications (does the guy speak Iraqi? Have experience in the region/country?) except loyalty to Bush/neocons.

Posted by: azurite on April 19, 2004 11:25 PM


Still have not resolved the conflict betwen the US wanting to have a permanent military base in the area and will the Iraqi electorate accept that.

Posted by: spencer on April 20, 2004 04:28 AM


Step 1. Vote G.W. Bush out of office.........

Posted by: Marquis de Sanity on April 20, 2004 04:28 AM


Last week, without much fanfare, Washington caved in and more or less accepted the UN agenda articulated by Lakhdar Brahimi. This accompanies the transfer of sovereignty on July 1. See:


The war was an awful idea, and the Administration is guilty of everything people say it is. But last week's US capitulation is a big deal. It may be the only thing they've done right.

Posted by: Jim Harris on April 20, 2004 06:18 AM


The UN is a laughable paper tiger in anything as important and difficult as compelling a country like Iraq to comply with cessation of hostilites agreements issuing from the Gulf War. The UN is further unable to either "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way." If the UN was a company doing business in the U.S., it would instantly be sued for fraud and illegal enrichment. Oh, what fools these mortals be who place such reverential faith in the UN!

Posted by: Lawrence on April 20, 2004 06:49 AM


Great idea to institute a draft! Nothing would get Shrub back to Crawford faster!

Posted by: JM on April 20, 2004 07:06 AM


Exactly how long would it take to have draftees in the field, if we re-instituted the draft tomorrow? I'm guessing it would be awhile: the military would have to decide how it was going to train all those extra bodies, set up facilities to do the training and people to man them. And I can't see it being treated like a crash WWII-level program.

If it's 12-18 months before significant numbers of draftees are in the field, then I don't see the point with respect to Iraq; its destiny will be decided before then.

Hell, I wonder whether there's any point in Kerry having a plan for Iraq, given that the 'facts on the ground' can change so much by January.

I think arkhangel's main point, that we need to give the Iraqis as much ownership of the reconstruction and transition to a new form of government as possible, is key.

And apparently that's one of the reasons Jay Garner (remember him?) was shoved aside: he wanted to hold early elections, and let the Iraqis make their own mistakes.

Posted by: RT on April 20, 2004 08:07 AM


Read this pretty interesting article about Irak.
The guy makes some good points about the British history in Irak and its lessons, except for the most obvious one; that the outcome of England imperial rule was the Baath party dictatorship.

Posted by: Carlos on April 20, 2004 08:10 AM


"At some point, we have to seriously consider restarting the draft, if only because we're in dire need of bodies,"

Think about the numbers. We have way too many eligible young people to use even in Peace Corps style organizations. Prior to the end of the Cold War we had about 2.4 million in uniform, by the end of Clinton's second term that was about 1.3 million. At the height of the Vietnam war we had about 3.5 million military troops.

This is a country of 280 million people. We can increase the size of the military through recruitment (which is at record high levels, as are re-enlistments). No one with an ounce of knowledge of economics should ever suggest relying on the draft for anything short of WWII.

Btw, Lawrence is completely correct about the UN. We tried turning over Somalia to the UN in the first Clinton Admin. Rent the video of Blackhawk Down to see how well that turned out.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 20, 2004 08:39 AM


IMO Arkhangel's prescription does not address the basic problem with our approach to Iraq, despite his obvious good intentions. I think that to most Iraqis, the premise of an American-led transformation of Iraqi society has no legitimacy. They don't want our tutorship. That mission is doomed, simply because they feel this way.

I'm afraid that the US is in any case unqualified to carry out that task, because we have little respect for or understanding of Iraqi culture to begin with. The notion of fixing this with a five day course of cultural training is unrealistic. One recent story described how many Marines grew moustaches before deployment to Fallujah to demonstrate their affinity with the Iraqi people. They shaved the moustaches off the day the fighting started.

Btw, Lawrence is completely correct about the UN. We tried turning over Somalia to the UN in the first Clinton Admin. Rent the video of Blackhawk Down to see how well that turned out.

Yeah, and read Scott Peterson on how the American tendency to alienate the Somalians, and our insistence on blowing people, away affected the UN mission.

Posted by: No Preference on April 20, 2004 09:30 AM


damn, I keep forgetting that this blog doesn't support html.

Posted by: No Preference on April 20, 2004 09:32 AM


Lawrence & Patrick: You guys need to think ahead about twenty years. You don't need to have faith in the U.N., and the U.N. doesn't have to be a particularly good organization. But we need to USE it. Much the same way you and I USE our own politicians, and for the same reasons.

If the U.N. blows it, then next time, in another country, the "invadees" will say to the U.S.: "No, we don't WANT the U.N.--will you guys please stay a little longer, until we get things straightened out?"

At what point did Conservatives turn into the pie-in-the-sky Liberals they so despise? Surely Edmund Burke understood that you use the institutions you have, ALL of them, and reform them along the way, and do it all by the rules. This is how you get to a better world, by showing everyone that you are willing to go along--not by Messianism out of the White House. The lack of psychological understanding is astonishing. It will be our undoing, because it bears upon military strategy. But then, Americans have never been accused of self-knowledge, the necessary precursor. Can we at least hope that out of this whole sorry episode, Americans might finally grow up?

But no--"the Iraqis have a slave mentality which will last for twenty years, impressed upon them by submissiveness to a dictator, and THAT is why they don't appreciate what we're trying to do for them!"--good lord, the current manure sphinctering out of think-tanks! (Never mind the fact that, were this falsehood true, duhhh, the "adults in charge" of our foreign policy should've known it in advance...)

Once again: it DOES NOT MATTER if the U.N. fails; in fact it can end up tactically to our advantage. Pile as much stuff onto it as possible! Dump it in their laps at the earliest opportunity, get out of the line of fire, and teach the world a lesson...

Posted by: Lee A. on April 20, 2004 09:48 AM


By that last phrase I mean, we should be setting up the conditions to make the REST of the world want to reform the U.N. by seeing in it the responsibilities and dangers of the future. If we don't do this, if we think we can take the responsibility onto ourselves, we are ensuring the loss of our own soldiers with never any end to it.

Posted by: Lee A. on April 20, 2004 10:09 AM


By that last phrase I mean: lots of blood, total failure, and no thanks.

Posted by: Lee A. on April 20, 2004 10:13 AM


Haven't we sold off all the recruit training camps?
Fort Ord is gone - UC Monterey Bay or something like that. Do we even have the facilities to train draftees?

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on April 20, 2004 10:16 AM


Dumping on the UN and getting out of the way, if one strongly anticipates pandemonium under UN, doesn't help US foreign policy prospects. As Powell says (according to Woodward), "we break it, we buy it." Proving the UN is not up to handling Iraq in no way reduces US responsibility for Iraq"s fate - at least, I would think, not in the eyes of anyone outside the US.

In fact, the entire UN bashing exercise is sort of silly. The US position toward the UN has been rather hypocritical in the best of times - the full-blown anti-UN critique is completely hypocritical. The US is among the smaller aid donars, as a share of GDP, in the developed world, and a good share of US aid over the years has been to finance military hardware. When US politicians lack the spine to manage domestic fiscal accounts, they short the UN on dues and then tell the UN that to get US arrears made up, the UN has to change its free-spending ways.

The UN is what we have allowed it to be. Want a better institution? Then enough with the internationalist bogey-man routine. Put some effort and money into making the UN a better thing. And the Jesse Helms take on things - if they don't see things his way, to hell with 'em - misses the fact that the UN was meant as place where all nations have a voice. I understand that lots of folks don't like that sort of thing, but it was the intent.

Meanwhile, we need to be figuring out whether the UN has a better shot at tamping down violence and instituting a successful government in Iraq than the US has. If not, move on to the next idea, 'cause when we broke it, we bought it.

Posted by: K Harris on April 20, 2004 10:33 AM


I have it on good authority that the Iraqi Governing Council has been infiltrated with Iraqis. Right under our noses. Some of them are even Shiite. How can we let this happen and call it a "victory"?

Posted by: ploeg on April 20, 2004 10:37 AM


The problem with the UN is that it was never built to handle situations like Iraq. It struggles to handle failed states like Somalia.

It does do some things well. When there's consensus among the powerful, some good things actually happen. But no concensus equals no action and on many issues no action is quite unsatisfactory. Ergo, for some issues the UN should be mercifully (but respectfully) dismissed.

Posted by: Lawrence on April 20, 2004 11:25 AM


Lawrence wrote:
>If the UN was a company doing business in the U.S., it >would instantly be sued for fraud and illegal >enrichment. Oh, what fools these mortals be who place >such reverential faith in the UN!
Priceless. Can you spell Haliburton. We have the spectacle of Haliburton et. al. fraudulantly and illegally enriching themselves, and at the same time not doing there jobs. Do not read much into Bush's use of the UN as a fig leaf for a failed policy. Remember the constituant assembly? The administration needed to find someone, anyone, to turn "power" over to. Now we have some names, without a government, even a provisional one.

Meanwhile in Falluja we have gone from "rooting out evildoers (Bush's phrase) to negotiating a "cease fire" where the evildoers to turn over their "heavy weapons" with no time table nor place to do so. Capitulation writ large. Lawrence and Patrick really should bone up on the current political line. "UN now good." I expect we will soon see Chirac eating fries at the White House.

Posted by: Lawrence Boyd on April 20, 2004 11:55 AM


Patrick writes: This is a country of 280 million people. We can increase the size of the military through recruitment (which is at record high levels, as are re-enlistments).

Oh yes. We maintained a very high quality all-volunteer force at staffing levels much higher than today. Doubling the current force size without resorting to the draft is easily doable.

But, and this is a very important but, this will not help in Iraq. It will take about a year for the US Army to field brand new formations wiich meet current standards of training and quality. I think Iraq will reach a tipping point one way or the other long before the new units are ready for deployment.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on April 20, 2004 12:59 PM


" Priceless. Can you spell Haliburton. We have the spectacle of Haliburton et. al. fraudulantly and illegally enriching themselves, and at the same time not doing there jobs. "

Speaking of priceless, "can you spell", Oil for Food Program?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 20, 2004 04:12 PM


"Speaking of priceless, "can you spell", Oil for Food Program?"

So now Bush is letting the UN name the "guvment." Maybe you should let them know about that Patrick.

Or perhaps the absolute scale of corruption under the CPA absolutely dwarfs anything that has gone before? That should pain you Patrick.

As the current Bad Guy Sadr asks:

"What do you say about a country [the US] that can conquer a Iraq in three weeks but cannot lay a single sewer line in over a year."

We've spent incredible sums, without oversight, that have produced no outcome. The depth of this is staggering.

Posted by: Lawrence Boyd on April 20, 2004 06:27 PM


Look, Negroponte's appointment clearly shows that they've given up on Iraq and just want to keep the lid on until the Nov elections.

Look at this:

It fits perfectly. Why else would they pick someone with NO reconstruction or peace-keeping experience? It's clear that they have no intention of turning around or 'fixing' Iraq.

Posted by: Oldman on April 20, 2004 08:19 PM


Patrick Sullivan: "This is a country of 280 million people. We can increase the size of the military through recruitment (which is at record high levels, as are re-enlistments)."

Steven Rogers: "Oh yes. We maintained a very high quality all-volunteer force at staffing levels much higher than today. Doubling the current force size without resorting to the draft is easily doable."

That, of course, was before the potential new recruits became aware that we were recruiting them expressly for the purpose of sending them to Iraq. Or -- if you send more of the current recruits to Iraq and just recruit the new ones to replace them -- you're going to have very serious trouble getting any of the military's current recruits to re-up... although everyone is aware that, even after we hand over nominal control of Iraq to its new "government", the US will have to keep a massive military presence there for a very long time to keep the palce from immediately exploding.

As I've said, that's the trouble with depending entirely on mercenaries for your military. (It's also why NATO depended entirely on a threat of immediate nuclear counterattack to keep the USSR from invading western Europe, while maintaining a ridiculously small conventional military force in West Germany entirely as a tripwire for that nuclear counterattack.) I take for granted that, to cope with the new worldwide crisis, we are going to have to restart the draft in the near future -- but how many Americans (particularly of draft age) will trust the current bunch of boobs in charge of it?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 20, 2004 11:45 PM


So volunteer troops are mercenaries, in your book. How odd. I rather doubt that the vast majority of the young people in the US armed services would fight for another nation at twice the pay they are now receiving. As to current circumstances reducing the pool of volunteers - possibly. But maybe not. I've read/heard several accounts stating that most of the US troops who served in the 1960's were in fact volunteers.

As to NATO, France and West Germany had conscription.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on April 21, 2004 07:17 AM


Bruce not only thinks they are mercenaries, but "suicidal idiots". But he's clearly wrong about re-enlistment and recruitment:


Despite a rising tide of combat deaths and the prospect of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come, Americans continue to volunteer for duty and are re-enlisting at record rates.

The services believe a combination of patriotism and the economy is driving people to the military and keeping them there.

"The war is not only not having a negative effect, but it is helping to reinforce the number of people who want to join," said Cmdr. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Navy's Bureau of Personnel.

Even the Army National Guard, which has had 150,000 citizen soldiers mobilized for up to a year, has seen retention rates "going through the roof," said Guard spokesman Maj. Robert Howell.

Now, that that is cleared up, 2 questions for Bruce: How many men and women do you believe we need in uniform? And: How many Americans are there between 18-30 years of age?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 21, 2004 08:12 AM


I didn't say that "volunteer troops are mercenaries". I said that the US is depending on mercenaries -- that is, people who join the military for pay rather than out of a willingness to seriously risk their lives just for their country -- in order to gain an adequately staffed military, because people willing to seriously risk their necks out of unselfish patriotism aren't common enough. (Which, of course, is also why we had to rely on the draft to deal with the Vietnam War, which -- contrary to Patrick -- wasn't exactly World War II. It's also why NATO decided to rely on nuclear weapons rather than a remotely adequate supply of conventional troops in a mostly volunteer army. The fact that France and West germany conscripted a small number of additional soliders is beside the point -- if they had enlarged the draft enough to be able to match the conventional Warsaw Pact forces, the screams from the European public would have been deafening.)

As for those rah-rah statements about the supposed continuing American enthusiasm for enlistment, two notes. First, the military has every reason to exaggerate that enthusiasm in its official press releases.

Second, note that intriguing paragraph: "The services believe a combination of patriotism and the economy is driving people to the military and keeping them there." In other word, because (and only so long as) the US civilian economy is lousy, we will be able to retain an adequate supply of cannon fodder from the supply of people who can't find a decently paying job elsewhere. But even that will be a highly questionable motivator to those who know that they are being recruited to the military because -- and only because -- the US needs more people to get shot at in Iraq.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 22, 2004 02:18 AM


There is, of course, one very large additional point. The US may -- just possibly -- be able to scrape together enough troops without a draft to occupy Iraq, at least until such time as we finally pull out and the place immediately explodes. (My main objection to Rogers and Sullivan is their absolute confidence that we will unquestionably be able to do so -- a point on which they disagree not only with me but with George Will.) But we will certainly have to rely on a draft -- immediately -- to acquire the troops necessary to deal with a simultaneous crisis anywhere else, which may very well occur at any moment. I regard the reimposition of a draft as virtually inevitable in the near future, under any administration, in order to deal with the Semi-Hot World War between the US and the Moslem world (plus North Korea). But -- to repeat -- how popular will a draft be under the control of the current flock of arrogant dummies?

And (to bring up Steve Rogers' own point again): how are we going to gain the sudden new supply of ADEQUATELY TRAINED troops that we will need to deal with an explosive crisis in North Korea or Iran or Pakistan, which could happen at any moment -- unless we reimpose the draft right now? We are not so well-stocked with soldiers right now that we can afford to throw them away on a questionable military objective -- which is what we've done in Iraq, thanks to the Neocon Pollyannas. Which is James Fallows' and Timothy Noah's -- and my -- main point.

(One side note, Steve: I already explained to Patrick once before that I was not saying that ALL of the current US non-draft army is composed of "mercenaries" or "suicidal idiots" -- just that we are currently counting on a large supply of such in order to keep our army large enough. Patrick, however, doesn't listen so good.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 22, 2004 04:21 AM


I wouldn't characterize my feelings on the ability of the US military to meet staffing needs via volunteers as absolute confidence. Very confident, yes, but there are lots of factors - some of the random - at work here.

I'm sure the US armed services have conducted studies as to the motivation of enlistees. I would love to read them. Well, maybe not the reports themselves which would likely be pretty damn tedious, but certainly I would like to see abstracts and summaries. A mix of patriotism, economic pressure, adrenaline junkiedom, a straightforward liking for military life etc..

I am an Army brat and I have seen troops with all of those motivations. Very seldom is any of those factors present alone. Typically more than one, sometimes all are present in the indivudual soldier.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on April 22, 2004 07:22 AM


I'll go along with that. But, once again, in the rapidly deteriorating situation now (see the ghastly reports from today's papers at http://slate.msn.com/id/2099324/ ), will any such mixture be enough to keep troop levels where they need to be? Even if we conveniently (and dangerously) assume that the US will not be confronted with any sudden military needs besides Iraq?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 22, 2004 07:32 AM


These discussions with Bruce always degenerate into lengthy attempts to drown the issue at hand with a torrent of irrelevant words. Specifically, the issue of just how many uniforms we need. I'll try another tack (which I fully expect to be ignored also):

Please place an "X" in front of your selection of the number of troops required in the Moomaw Military:

__ 1. Between 1.5 and 2.0 million

__ 2. Between 2.0 and 2.5 million

__ 3. Between 2.5 and 3.0 million

__ 4. Between 3.0 and 3.5 million

__ 5. More than we had in 1968

Second question: Place an "X" in front of the number of Americans between the ages 18-30:

__ 1. Fewer than 5 million

__ 2. Between 5 million and 15 million

__ 3. Between 15 and 30 million

__ 4. Between 30 and 45 million

__ 5. Over 45 million

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 22, 2004 10:41 AM


Ah. So THAT explains why we didn't really need a draft for the Vietnam War.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 22, 2004 04:51 PM


Meaning the Bruce finally realizes how ridiculous his claims about needing to restart the draft actually are.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 23, 2004 12:50 PM


No, Patrick. It means that I know (as I've always known) how ridiculous your particular size comparison is in arguing that we definitely DON'T need to restart the draft.

By the way, see Phil Carter's piece on the subject today in "Slate" ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2099408/ ) for more on this. Like James Fallows and me (but unlike George Will) he's not certain that we'll need to restart the draft just to deal with Iraq. Like all of us (and Tim Noah), he makes it clear that he thinks we'll have to restart it -- fast -- to deal with any other simultaneous military crisis abroad, which is a very serious possibility in three other theaters. Of course, as Steve Rogers -- who actually understands me, unlike you -- has said, any draft started this late will mean that we'd have to utilize huge numbers of totally untrained troops to cope with any such crisis (thanks to our decision to invade Iraq instead), which is why we should have restarted the draft already. Under the control, of course, of an administration with some trace of brains.

By the way, I hope you're not going to use Pat Tillman's death today to accuse me again of calling all US military volunteers "mercenaries" and "suicidal idiots", since of course I never did do so (something which, again, Rogers apparently understands, as opposed to your serious problems in understanding much of anything).

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 23, 2004 08:35 PM


I note your desperate attempt to change the subject, Bruce. Since you won't touch the subject of the actual numbers, it's obvious you know you're routed.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on April 24, 2004 11:53 AM


My dear Pat: the "subject", of course, is that you could use the same moronically irrelevant numerical argument to argue that we didn't need a draft to fight the Vietnam War (which, come to think of it, you did say). You might really want to read that Carter piece in "Slate" that I mentioned for further details on the stupidity of the particular argument you're using. It's, alas, obvious you're short-circuited.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 25, 2004 04:19 AM


And while we're at it, I'm still waiting for your response to those pieces by Will and Fallows that I've mentioned -- in particular, the point noted by Fallows:

"Some reservists and active-duty soldiers no doubt thrive on unexpected assignments. But for the military as a whole, the stepped-up 'ops tempo,' or pace of operations, is hard to sustain with a volunteer force. Since the elimination of the draft, in 1973, the military has had to compete with the rest of the U.S. economy for manpower. It has done so in material ways, by increasing pay and benefits, and with its traditional appeal to those seeking challenge, service, and personal growth. But it has also offered volunteers a certain amount of control over their destiny, because they could always resign if they chose. And although recruiters would never put it this way, the enlistees of the 1990s could reasonably assume that the greatest physical danger they would face would come during training exercises, not from roadside bombs in a place like Baghdad or Fallujah. Guard and Reserve members could, within certain limits, assume that their lives would remain normal."

Yes indeed. (In this connection, I also note -- to repeat myself once again -- your approving reference to that press release in which "the services" note approvingly that our deteriorating economy is forcing more people into the military because they can't find work elsewhere. Maybe we could deliberately initiate a depression to assure that we have an adequate supply of "volunteers" even when the new enlistees know they're being asked to enlist precisely because the government needs more people to get shot at in Iraq.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 25, 2004 04:38 AM


You DO recognize that I was being sarcastic when I said that your argument "shows why we didn't really need a draft during the vietnam War", don't you? (I've taken for granted that you did, but it's just occurred to me that it's always dangerous to take for granted that you've noticed the obvious.)

Meanwhile, I see that Sen. Hagel is starting to think along my lines ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32752-2004Apr21.html ) -- although, as he says, "My colleagues are running away from this as fast as they can... [but] there isn't a one of them who doesn't understand what I'm doing." (They do all seem to be hoping, though, that there's an adequate supply of the poor in this country that we can maintain an adequate supply of cannon fodder without having to require sacrifice from anyone of higher income -- a point which that silly Hagel seems unable to bring himself to ignore.)

I also notice a certain amount of recent squirming from Scott McClellan, who seems to be leaving the White House a bit more of an escape hatch on the issue than you are:

"Q: Can I ask you one question about Senator Hagel's comments about -- he was saying that there should be a debate about a draft in the United States because he feels that the burden of fighting the war on terrorism might not be shared -- being shared fairly across the board. [As you'll see from the article on Hagel that I linked to above, that's hardly his only reason -- Moomaw.] Does the President believe that having an all-volunteer military is an effective way that all citizens are equally shouldering that burden?

"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that our military leaders have said that they believe they have the troop leaders necessary to continue waging and winning the war on terrorism . . . and have the troop levels they need to continue our efforts to win the war on terrorism. And so I think that that's been addressed by military leaders. And the President -- as I said yesterday, that is just not something that's under consideration at this time."

McClellan the previous day:

"Q: Scott, Senator Hagel also talked about the idea -- the need for more troops, perhaps speaking to the notion of reinstating the draft. What's the President's position on reinstating the draft?

"MR. McCLELLAN: John, that's not something that's been under consideration.

"Q: Is it something that the President keeps in the back of his mind, though, that he may have to do at some point?

"MR. McCLELLAN: As I said earlier today, it's just not something that's been under consideration.

"Q: Is he ruling it out categorically?

"MR. McCLELLAN: John, it's not something that's under consideration. That's the way I would describe it."

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 25, 2004 06:09 AM


One additional note: Carter, Fallows, Noah and Will note that our current occupational force of 200,000 -- plus the far larger additional force necessary to keep the troops who are actually in Iraq properly supplied -- is already "straining the US military to its limits". Before the war, Gen. Shinseki estimated that we would actually need "several hundred thousand" troops; according to Fallows, Shinseki's private estimate was 400,000. Shinseki didn't call for a draft, of course -- but that was before our bungling of the occupation and reconstruction made Iraqis detest us in such rapidly growing numbers that the entire place is now ready to explode, in which case 500,000 to a million troops may be necessary for however long the occupation lasts. (And for a look at how the average Iraqi is likely to view our coming attacks on Fallujah and Najaf, see the NY Times' series of man-on-the-street interviews at http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/22/international/middleeast/22MOOD.html .)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 25, 2004 07:10 AM


And another item fresh off the press from Newsweek ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4825948/ ):

"Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the House committee that military operations in Iraq are now costing about $4.7 billion a month—a sum that approaches the $5 billion a month (on average) that the Vietnam War cost, adjusted for inflation.

"Sen. John McCain says the Pentagon needs an additional division beyond the 20,000 men it is leaving in Iraq for 90-day extensions. Another senator and Vietnam vet, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, even suggested the nation might have to take a long-term look at reviving the draft. Few others went that far, but one knowledgeable Army officer points out that Rumsfeld's standing 'stop-loss' order —- basically a freeze on retirements —- is a 'silent draft.' It is not expected to be lifted 'for the foreseeable future,' the officer said."

Of course not -- because the moment he lifts it, there's going to be a stampede for the exits.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 25, 2004 07:22 AM


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